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Book Note: W.E. Butterworth, Leroy and the Old Man

I read this book about 24-Sep-2006. This is the first time I've read this book. The book is copyright 1980. This note was last modified Monday, 16-Oct-2006 12:56:53 PDT.

This note contains spoilers for the book.


Another young adult from Butterworth. Again a kid goes south, and learns to work, and religion doesn't enter into it. This time it's a black kid from Chicago, living in the projects. He goes down to live with his grandfather after he's a witness to a murder. There's some conflict over whether the grandfather doesn't understand Chicago, or the boy doesn't understand life. Along the way he works in a shrimp boat, helps build a house, and delivers shrimp to New Orleans restaurants. And also learns about food.

His father turns up towards the end, and it turns out that he's a petty gangster, hanging out with loose women, and generally nearly as bad as the impression people have given Leroy of him. And in the end Leroy makes the right decision—to pursue a life and a career that won't kill him and will probably support him pretty decently.

It's always interesting to see somebody presenting a sympathetic view of southern culture. Mostly it appears to consist of being rude to people while insisting on the trappings of formal respect, and not communicating. That last does not distinguish it from much of any other regional culture, though.

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David Dyer-Bennet